WHAT TO ASK YOUR CONTRACTOR?
This is your home, to most people it’s the biggest financial investment in their life. You want to make sure that your home is in good hands. Here are some questions you should ask your contractor before hiring:
1. Are you a licensed contractor?
Obtaining the proper license in the state or city where the work will be completed can help ensure that the contractor has been trained in the proper practices and regulations specific to his or her specialty. In Massachusetts it is required by law that a painting company has an HIC – Home Improvement Contractors License and a remodeling company has a CSL – General Contractors License.
2. Do you carry general liability insurance?
Carrying adequate general liability insurance helps ensure that if any property damage occurs on the site, the contractor is liable.
3. Do you carry workers compensation insurance?
If the contractor does not carry workers compensation insurance, you, the homeowner, may be liable for anything that happens on your property.
4. What type of warranty do you provide?
A warranty can cover everything from price to workmanship to product warranties and more. A warranty is only as good as the company that stands behind it.
5. How does the process work from beginning to end?
The contractor’s working process should be explained to you from beginning to end. This will help ensure both parties are staying on track to the agreed contract and that you will understand how the contractor’s company operates.
6. Can you provide references?
A contractor should be willing to provide you with references from previous clients that you can contact to ask how their projects went.
7. Will all permits be pulled as required?
Depending on the scope of the work, the contractor should pull all required permits to ensure that all safety and building code regulations and inspections are met for the proper installation.
8. How long has the company been in business?
It is always better to go with a company that has been in business for at least five years. This will ensure that they are not a fly-by-night contractor who will leave town before the job is even finished.
9. Do they use subcontractors?
It is important that the company you hire does not use subcontractors because this can lead to unskilled and unprofessional painters working on your home. If you receive a rather low painting estimate from a company, most times the reason is because they have inexperienced workers on the job.
SPOTTING SHIFTY CONTRACTORS 101
The Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission have some handy tips for spotting a disreputable contractor.
solicits business by going door to door; uses high-pressure sales tactics to convince you to make a quick decision; bad mouths a competitor; requests that you pay for the entire job upfront, don’t ever make any type of payment before the work starts; has the “perfect” lender for you (which often leads to home improvement loan scams).